Bar Fly with Tim Blake from Bury St Edmunds speakeasy The Stillery
“They’re one of the cocktail world’s most important – and possibly divisive – ingredients.” In his Easter column, Tim Blake, bona fide drinks buff and the brains behind Bury St Edmunds speakeasy The Stillery, shakes up a pair of egg-based cocktails
Easter never fails to make me smile: the welcoming of spring and the waving goodbye to winter weather (hopefully); the lengthy Bank Holiday weekend, full of kicking back, drinking and eating; not to mention the mountains and mountains of chocolate eggs. It truly is an EGG-cellent time of year (first and last egg pun, I promise).
And this got me thinking about this month’s column. We rarely explore eggs in drinks, yet they’re one of the cocktail world’s most important – and possibly divisive – ingredients. How egg-citing! (I lied about the egg puns. #sorrynotsorry)
Eggs have been an essential cocktail ingredient dating as far back as the original bartender’s guide, Jerry Thomas’ 1862 How to Mix Drinks or the Bon Vivant’s Companion. This lengthy tome is still referenced by bartenders today and includes numerous drinks using egg whites and whole eggs. But, why?
Why use egg whites in cocktails, especially as they add very little in the way of flavour? Egg whites provide texture; a silky body that feels rich on the tongue. They also give an attractive frothy "cap" like the foam on a latté. This silky, foamy texture is created when egg white is shaken into a cocktail. By shaking, you are causing the main protein in the egg white, ovalbumin, to "unfold" or unravel. It also mixes air into the white, which is trapped by the proteins, to form a foam.
Unlike egg whites, the yolk of a whole egg does add flavour to a drink. As well as helping to emulsify other ingredients, a yolk makes the drink taste a little like eggnog. The effect of using a whole egg therefore is a rich flavour and a creamy body.
Are there any alternatives?
Yes. Eggs in cocktails aren’t for everyone. While it is safe to use eggs in cocktails (as long as they are fresh and stored correctly) there are some groups who should or choose to avoid them; that is, those concerned about raw eggs due to allergies, the immune-compromised, pregnant women and nursing mothers, the very elderly and vegans.
Happily, there is an ingenious vegan egg white substitute – chickpea juice, also known as aquafaba. Two tablespoons of the liquid from a drained can of chickpeas equals one egg white. There are also “bitters” available, such as Ms Betters Miraculous Foamer, that work equally well.
OK, I’m ready to give this a try. What’s the technique?
Cocktails using eggs fall into two styles: flips and nogs for whole eggs, and sours and fizzes for whites-only cocktails. Both require a little extra effort, because you need to emulsify all the ingredients to make sure the whites form their frothy protein structure.
I find the reverse dry shake to be the best technique. Add all your ingredients including the ice and shake as normal. Then strain out the ice and shake again “dry” (meaning without ice). This will wake up the protein and aerate most efficiently.
Here are a couple of recipes for you to try at home:
I Found A Flip
50ml Cotswolds Single Malt English Whisky
20ml Audemus Covert Fig Liqueur
20ml honey syrup
1 whole egg
Add all ingredients and reverse dry shake. Fine strain into a fancy glass and top with grated nutmeg.
40ml Stillery Dry Gin
20ml Cocchi Sweet Vermouth
10ml Blood Orange Cointreau
20ml pomegranate syrup
20ml lemon juice
1 egg white
Add all ingredients and reverse dry shake. Fine strain into a coupe glass and top with nutmeg.
Follow Tim’s Instagram feed @liquidevangelist and check out all the goings on and upcoming events at the Stillery at stillery.co.uk or @stillerybar
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More by this authorAlice Ryan